Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Public interest test in three countries' FOI legislation

A general public interest test was adopted in New Zealand FOI legislation, while only a special public interest was adopted in those of Australia and China. In New Zealand, the general public interest test seems to be mandated in respect of every release. In most cases a balancing process is required only with a few exceptions. [1] A special public interest test exists in Australia and China. In Australia, a pubic interest test is applied to five exemptions: relations with states, financial interests of the Commonwealth, internal working documents, financial documents, and documents related to operations of agencies. However, in China, this test is only applied to privacy and trade secrets exemptions.

[1] Judith Aitken, ‘Open Government in New Zealand’ in Andrew McDonald and Greg Terrill (eds) Open Government: Freedom of Information and Privacy (1998) 117, 124.

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